Soap Tree

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Alphitonia excelsa

Family : Rhamnaceae

This is a medium sized tree growing to about 10 – 15 metres. It is hardy and easily adaptable to a variety of soils. It is salt tolerant, prefers full sun and can tolerate sandy soils and wind.

This is an attractive, bushy tree with distinctive thin, glossy leaves that are dark olive green on the top side and white on the under side. Crushed leaves can be used as a soap substitute as they lather well in water. Bark is greyish and smooth.

The flowers are small and appear in large clusters. These are cream coloured with a strong scent, usually appearing during the wet season. Fruits are a dry, woody capsule containing several seeds which blacken when ripe.

This tree attracts several species of birds, insects, flying foxes and moths – particularly the Giant Ghost moth and Emperor moth.


Traditional Owner Values

Manbarra - The soap tree is used as a medicine, to disinfect and clean your skin.

Quick Facts

Flowers January to April
Fruit June to September
Coastal Zone Dune Crest - Hind Dune
Fauna Habitat Birds, Moths, Insects and Other
Growth Habit Tree
Typical Height 10m to 15m
Soils Most Soils
Amount of Sun Full or Partial Sun
Amount of Water Dry or Moderately Wet Areas
Salt Tolerance Moderately Tolerant


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Group Incorporated (CTDLI) to the development of this page's information.

Related information

Soap Tree © NQ Dry Tropics

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